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Letta seeks Italy parliament confidence vote amid Berlusconi party divisions

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Letta seeks Italy parliament confidence vote amid Berlusconi party divisions
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The two men in the front line of Italy’s latest political crisis both say they want the government to soldier on.

President Giorgio Napolitano has called for continuity; Prime Minister Enrico Letta is to seek a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday.

Letta’s move after the two meet on Sunday night comes amid apparent splits in Silvio Berlusconi’s PdL party, following his decision to pull his ministers out of the coalition.

Letta is encouraged by suggestions that some of the tycoon’s supporters may rebel.

Speaking on Italian TV he said he hoped part of the PdL did not agree with their leader, who is fighting moves to expel him from parliament following his conviction for tax fraud. Berlusconi has called for early elections.

But it is only seven months since Italians last voted for a new government. That produced an inconclusive result which led to the current coalition.

Some believe it is time to vote again. “I suppose it would be better to have new elections, because right now nothing is working. Everything just gets postponed, extended, the crisis is still here and you can feel it,” said Paolo Armellini, who lives in Rome.

But others believe Berlusconi is not acting in the country’s best interests. “I think that Berlusconi thinks only about himself rather than about Italy and Italians… There are people who are starving,” said another Rome resident, Francesca Simpatico.

The former prime minister says he pulled his party out of the government over a sales tax dispute and has dismissed talk of a possible breakaway faction.

Parliament is expected to begin moves later this week that could see Berlusconi thrown out of the chamber by mid-October.